Serving deviled eggs at picnics and cocktail parties may have been de rigueur in post-World War II America, but these classic creamy concoctions did not originate in the United States. Although they weren’t prepared the same way, the roots of modern-day deviled eggs can be traced back to ancient Rome, where eggs were boiled, seasoned with spicy sauces and then typically served at the beginning of a meal—as a first course known as gustatio—for wealthy patricians. In fact, serving eggs while entertaining was so common that the Romans had a saying, “ab ova usque ad mala”—literally from eggs to apples, or from the beginning of a meal to the end. In Petronius’s satirical fiction “Satyricon,” written around 61 A.D., the wealthy freedman Trimalchio invited guests to a banquet in which the menu included fig-peckers (small songbirds) marinated in peppered egg yolk and stuffed into peahen eggs.
The first known printed mention of ‘devil’ as a culinary term appeared in Great Britain in 1786, in reference to dishes including hot ingredients or those that were highly seasoned and broiled or fried. By 1800, deviling became a verb to describe the process of making food spicy. But in some parts of the world, the popular egg hors d’oeuvres are referred to as “mimosa eggs,” “stuffed eggs,” “dressed eggs” or “salad eggs”—especially when served at church functions—in order to avoid an association with Satan.
A recipe from Fannie Farmer’s 1896 “Boston Cooking-School Cookbook” was one of the earliest to suggest the use of mayonnaise as a binder for the filling. However, despite the fact that mayonnaise began to be distributed commercially in the United States in 1907, the condiment was not commonly featured in deviled egg recipes until the 1940s. The classic version of deviled eggs is now widely considered to include a mixture of mayonnaise, mustard and paprika, but professional chefs and home cooks around the world have experimented with numerous variations on the filling throughout history—including pickles, dill, bacon, crab meat, sriracha, kimchi, wasabi and caviar among many others.
Ingredients6 hard-cooked eggs
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1-1/2 teaspoons grated onion
1-1/2 teaspoons sweet pickle relish- drained very well
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
Salt/pepper to taste
Slice eggs in half lengthwise. Remove yolks; set whites aside. In a small bowl, mash yolks. Stir in the mayonnaise, onion, relish, sugar,mustard, salt, and pepper. Fold in pimento. Pipe or spoon into egg whites. If desired, slice 4 stuffed green olives into thirds and put on top of eggs. Sprinkle with paprika. Refrigerate until serving. Yield: 1 dozen.
PLACE eggs in saucepan large enough to hold them in single layer. ADD cold water to cover eggs by 1 inch. HEAT over high heat just to boiling. Add 1 T salt.
REMOVE from burner. COVER pan. LET EGGS STAND in hot water about 12 minutes for large eggs (9 minutes for medium eggs; 15 minutes for extra large).
DRAIN immediately and serve warm. OR, cool completely under cold running water or in bowl of ice water, then REFRIGERATE.